First of its kind sepsis detection tool is a 'needed roadmap' for patient care

One month after Baton Rouge, La.-based Our Lady of the Lake Health deployed a new diagnostic tool capable of detecting sepsis within 10 minutes, physicians told Becker's it has already helped clinical teams prioritize faster care for 15 at-risk individuals. 

Not only is the tool allowing for faster care and attention to a condition of which time is of the essence for patients, but it allows for prioritization of their care and provides clinicians with a resource that has been lacking until now. 

"The previous assumption was that we as physicians had a test that would diagnose the abnormal host response to infection," Christopher Thomas, MD, medical director for system quality and patient safety and chief of quality and patient safety, performance improvement for at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center told Becker's, but that was not necessarily the case.

"In medicine, we have a roadmap for patient-centered care with strokes. We have it in myocardial infarction too — but what I would tell others is we did not have it for sepsis until now, at least in our evaluation. It now creates a different roadmap," Dr. Thomas said. "The roadmap we were looking at before for patient care when treating sepsis was not Google Maps, where you could tell where you were going, but more of an old school paper map where you would have to think about where to turn beforehand." 

In just the last few weeks, Hollis "Bud" O'Neal, MD, medical director of research at the medical center, said patients who have checked into the ER are evaluated using the tool, and anyone who has a condition that the tool signals as putting them at a higher risk for septic infection, is prioritized and seen in that order, rather than the traditional order they come in. The tool also helps free up nurses' time and triage care and resources to know which patients to prioritize instead of treating all cases the same.

"It really gives us structure and truly acts as a kind of map for how to manage this problem that is sepsis," Dr. O'Neal said. "And by implementing this into the processes that Dr. Thomas and his team have developed, we've been able to really improve the efficiency of our teams and treatment, rather than just kind of meandering through multiple different diagnostic challenges to get there. It allows us to take a much more direct route."

Further data on the tool's use will be collected in the coming months.

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